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  1. #1
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    Servo Wave Vs. Fixed Brake Levers for V-Brakes

    I understand the theoretical advantages/differences, but how about in actual use?

    What are the pros and cons from your experience?

    Scott Novak

  2. #2
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    Nobody here even remembers what V's are, much less uses them. You would probably have better luck in the vintage/retro section


    I remember them well though and still use a Cane Creek direct curve caliper which were my favorites because they eliminate that troublesome noodle. Servo wave levers were an answer looking for a problem IMO, added complications with no perceived benefits that I could tell. A good standard pull lever feels more solid and offers better modulation for me.

  3. #3
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    The Cane Creek Direct Curve MTB 5 brakes are a solution looking for my problem!

    I prefer my right brake lever to control my front brake. The MTB 5 arms are reversible so the brake cable would approach with the least amount of bends. I especially like the idea of eliminating the noodle. Thanks for the tip!

    The servo wave levers seemed over complicated to me. Reminds me of self adjusting drum brakes on a car with floating brake pads. They have a tendency to lock up and I don't like the pedal feel. The brakes with fixed shoe pivots require manual adjustment, however the feel is better and they don't lock up by themselves.

    Scott Novak

  4. #4
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    The problem with Servowave V-brake levers is getting them to engage and "cam over" at the right point in the lever pull. If it's not setup right the transition happens either too early or too late, and in both cases you end up with sub-par braking power and/or modulation. If you get it right the lever will click over to the higher leverage position shortly after the pads touch, and this will give you better power and brake modulation compared to a standard brake lever along with improved pad clearance. I think of it as a way to package the performance of a large lever such as the old Avid 3.0 into a light, compact 2-finger lever.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Nobody here even remembers what V's are, much less uses them. You would probably have better luck in the vintage/retro section
    I sometimes miss the simplicity of a good set oc v-brakes! When they work, the work well! They were great for XC riding.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

  6. #6
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    My experience with Vs, both on my current/past bicycles and my customers have been thus: if you are seeking a large gap between the pad and rim at rest, but still want lots of leverage throughout the lever pull, servowave can help (without this, you often get a spongy lever, without a good solid 'on' feeling). If you have your brakes set up (properly in my opinion) with the pads fairly close (1-1.5mm) to the rim, a regular lever offers plenty of leverage throughout the stroke. The downside is that it requires more grip strength to get the best performance out of the brakes. For the average bike that now comes with V's? The first option is often the best, as you are dealing with less of a high performance, high speed bike, and more of a cruising style.

    Servowave is a nice feature to have if you really want to mess with it (and fantastic on Shimano's hydraulic brakes, by the way) but the ability to change the cable pull on the brake (Avid SD 7 and up, and older XTR cable levers) influences the feel far more, in my experience.

  7. #7
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    I just installed a set of Avid Speed Dial 7 brake levers. I haven't installed the new V-brakes yet, but i already prefer the Avid brake levers over the Shimano levers that I had.

    Scott Novak

  8. #8
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    I have a set of old XT levers that are servo-wave. IMO, they really don't do much, other than make annoying clicking sounds after they got a few years on them. To be honest, between them, a set of LX, and several different Avids (Speed Dials and FR). the XT Servos are my least favorite set of levers. I really don't know if being Servo Wave has anything to do with my not liking them, though.

    In my experience, good pads, good cables/housing (I like Jagwire Ripcords) and in some cases a brake booster each make more difference than the levers or brake calipers.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  9. #9
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    I have the XTR shifter-lever combo as well as various Avids and an old LX brake lever set. The Avids work well but the lever shape just doesn't agree with me. Their performance is better than the LX but not quite up to XTR level. I think what makes the XTR better than the XT servowave is that they're far more adjustable, XT just gives you 3 positions using wedge blocks (no servowave, medium action, and full action) whereas XTR uses a set screw so you can set it wherever you want. Overall I like the XTR levers the most, it's the best performer once it's dialed in and the ergonomics are by far the best of any V-brake lever I've ever used.

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